• What it takes to qualify for the National Team

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    SUSAN PAPA

    (Part 1)

    It’s about time I tackle what it takes to qualify for the Philippine National Swimming Team.

    One of the most common misconceptions is that a swimmer must be a member of the Philippine Swimming, Inc. (PSi) to become a member of the national team.

    Many were misled that a swimmer cannot compete abroad if he or she is not a member of the PSi.

    This is one of the reasons why the Philippines is 15 to 20 years behind in the world of competitive swimming.

    It is a shame, considering that the Philippines is an archipelago surrounded by bodies of water.

    In the current absence of Mark Joseph, the appointed secretary-general Lani Velasco is now running the PSi. Velasco must change the system of recruitment for the national team by opening the tryout to all Filipino swimmers not just PSi members.

    If she continues with Joseph’s way of running the association, she could face legal trouble.

    Many good swimmers were deprived by the PSi the opportunity to compete for the Philippines in the past particularly those from Mindanao who could not afford to pay their membership fees.

    It is a very sad state considering it was the swimmers from Mindanao that gave honor to the country in the past editions of the Asian Games among them Amman Jalmaani, Jairulla Jaitulla, Leroy Goff, Tony Asamli and Roosevelt Abdulgafur.

    The truth is we have won zero medal since 1986, except the medal won by Ryan Papa in the 1998 Asian Games.

    Former senator Nikki Coseteng, the chairman of the Philippine Swimming League stressed that the Philippine Sports Commission must address the problems besieging Philippine swimming.

    “Up to now, there is still no transparency on who are being selected for the National swimming Team, while it is to be emphasized and realized that the government is the one spending for the national delegation to the SEA Games.”

    It was also commonly believed that only the PSi could send athletes to the Olympics.

    Even our 10-year old swimmer Michaella Jasmine Mojdeh is not being spared from PSi politics.

    Mojdeh is being told to join the PSi if she wants to make it to the National Team and perhaps the Olympics someday.

    For everyone’s enlightenment, a swimmer need not be a PSi member but rather he or she must meet the Olympic Qualifying Standard to be able to compete in the Olympics.

    The law says, the process of selection must give equal opportunity and must be non-discriminatory regardless of race, religion, gender and political parties of any person.

    So, it is very important that the swimming community must ponder on the true meaning of “Sports for All.”

    (To be continued)

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